The Post-Secular City and Varieties of Religious Musicality

13 July 2017

During the second month of his fellowship at the University of Vienna and at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen, Paolo Costa, Senior Researcher at the Center for Religious Studies of FBK, gave two talks at the Faculty of Catholic Theology. The events were organized by the research platform “Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society”.

The first lecture, entitled “The Post-Secular City: The New Secularization Debate”, was delivered by him on June 21st. Costa presented on this occasion the book about the new secularization debate that he has been working on for several years now. His key claim is that a paradigm shift in the understanding of the secularization process occurred in the last 50 years. This radical change is reconstructed in the volume by means of an in-depth study of some protagonists of the debate: Hans Blumenberg, David Martin, Charles Taylor, Hans Joas, Talel Asad, Jürgen Habermas, Marcel Gauchet, Giorgio Agamben, Gianni Vattimo.

The second lecture, entitled “Religious Unmusicality: What Does It Mean and Does It Matter?”, was given on June 28th. Costa discussed here the philosophical and theological meaning of the metaphor of Religiöse Unmusikalität. This idea, thought up by Max Weber at the beginning of the twentieth-century, has become almost proverbial today after being used by prominent thinkers such as Jürgen Habermas and Richard Rorty. In his presentation, Costa argued against the reduction of this image to an obliging conversation-stopper. To this end, he tried to show that the metaphor helps us to understand to what extent religious sensitivity is a complex dynamic phenomenon whose natural setting is less a relationship of static accommodation than a passionate struggle for recognition.

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